In sailing, we always call these little doo-dads “eye straps”, but Google tells me that the rest of the world calls them pad eyes. I’m not sure which term is more common for kayak folk, but I’m guessing you know of what I speak.
We just purchased a new Perception Rambler 13.5 Tandem, chosen over other brands/models in the sub-$1k class for its 3rd (middle) seat option, which many report as useful for single-handing a tandem. Oddly enough, starting with their 2020 or 2021 redesign, it seems they’ve stopped providing the eye straps required for hooking the seat into this middle position. I guess they saved a dollar on it.
No problem, I can remedy that for under $10, and the attachment points for these are clearly defined in the rotomolded hull. But in measuring the hardware they provided for the front and rear seat locations, I noticed that the factory eye straps are plastic! Searching about, I find they’re commonly made of nylon, which is amusing, as the stainless steel ones to which I’m accustomed usually cost less than $2 in this size.
The question is, do these actually hold up, or are they just a point of frustrating and guaranteed failure? I already bought a 10 pack of the right size in stainless, and could find two more (maybe floating around in one of my sailing hardware bins), if the nylon bits are an anticipated point of failure, and just install 12 stainless. However, if these are normal and haven’t been a problem for others, I’d be happier to just leave them alone and save putting hardware in and out of this soft rotomolded plastic hull more times than necessary.
Do you mean like these things?
If so, I don’t see how they’re meant to attach seats. I have a single one (stainless) at the center of my kayak but it’s meant to attach a locking cable.
SOTs with clip in seats use padeyes as attachment points.
Nylon padeyes are common on kayaks - besides the (minute) cost savings they are rounded on the edges so less likely to tear up your legs or feet. Sea kayaks will have recesses molded in to accept flush fittings for bungees and perimeter lines but that’s not typical on a price point SOT. The stainless ones you have pictured will be fine and should last forever. I have seen very few failures of the nylon ones though; most often the rivets fail long before the padeyes.
Excellent. Thanks again, Brodie. I’ll install the four new stainless for the center seat, and leave the nylon ones alone for the fore and aft seat positions.
I guess I can always throw the spare stainless fittings into a gear bag, to have with me should I need to do a parking lot swap on it for my wife. I was able to find rounded stainless ones, hopefully a bit easier on the skin than the usual stamped strap type.
Yes the rounded ones should be just fine. I could definitely see the flat ones causing some painful damage. Weird that they stopped installing the padeyes completely though, I wonder if it’s every boat or if yours (or a shipment) were missed.
Yeah, they’re really shaving close, if four eye straps is what they need to make their margin. To be clear, they’re still installing them for the fore and aft seat locations, just not the center location. The photos on their site show the same, so I guess it’s now their standard to leave those off.
Sadly, I wanted to buy the slightly more highly-rated Tribe, as some report it tracks better than the Rambler, when single-handing or with an adult + young child situation. But those reviews all refer to the pre-2020 models, they completely dropped the center seat capability from the Tribe in their recent redesign.
Maybe feedback received by these makers indicates that single-handing from an optional center seat is not factoring into the purchase decision of buyers, but my (admittedly biased and focused) little bit of research on this subject would indicate the opposite, for these low-end family-oriented SOT’s.
Keep in mind that rotomolded plastic is not very strong. You definitely don’t want to just use self tapping screws to hold in, as these will pull out very quickly. Some sort of bracing behind is strongly recommended (at very least a large diameter washer under the nut). This is assuming the manufacturer didn’t mold a nut into the plastic, as they did for the front and rear seats.
That brings about the issue of how to access the backside of the area where you will put the pad eye… I think the base model doesn’t have hatch access to the hollow inside of the hull. I’ve gotten around this by adding a hatch in a boat I wanted to similarly get access to inside on. I used a kit by Sealect (one of these, I think: SEA-LECT Designs - Your Paddlesport Hardware & Repair Solution), but Perception also makes kits.
Thanks for posting, and you’re right that rotomolded plastic hulls are soft. I’ve been dealing with rotomolded sailboat hulls for several years, where loads are easily +20x higher than anything a kayak seat strap will ever see, and have dealt with molded in nuts, STS’s, and thru-bolting, depending on location and loading. In this particular case, the manufacturer used no.10 STS’s, and the load is mostly in sheer, not tension. I have never read a review or post mentioning screw pull-out if these eye straps on this particular boat, despite it being a popular model with a reasonably long history, so I think it’s probably fine, but if there’s any history of it I’d be interested to know. There are dedicated molded locations for these screws, so while not as good as molded-in nuts, it’s likely they built extra thickness into those areas.
I will be cutting hatch covers into this boat, there are locations for three of them molded into the deck. So if a STS does pull out, I’ll be able to machine screw and nut it, but I think I’ll take my chances with the stock installation method, first.
I often use nylon strapping to make pad-eyes. Most of the time I do it so I only have to drill one hole, and get to it, to bolt it down. The fewer holes in a boat, the better.
One thing about nylon strapping; use heat to cut and drill it. That seals the edges so it doesn’t unravel.
When bolting through, make sure to use the largest fender washer that fits. That spread the pressure on it to a larger area, reducing stress at any one point.